The problem with being in a big tent party is that there are so many damn people in the tent and they all want something, usually all at the same time.
One day after a huge and historic victory for the Democratic party and already chinks are showing up in their armor.
At issue is the passing of Proposition 8 in California. Prop 8 amends the California constitution to make gay marriage illegal. The proposition was written by California conservatives with two motives. The first most obvious was to roll back the advances of the gay rights movement, but there was a second, less obvious motive, to encourage right wing voters to the polling booth in an election when John McCain needed all the votes he could get.
The only thing is, it didn't turn out that way. Obama won big in California, but prop 8 won too, by a similarly large margin.
Mathematically, there are only two ways that could have happened. Either a whole bunch of right wing people voted for Prop. 8, but didn't vote for McCain, or, much more likely, an awful lot of people who voted for Obama also voted in favor of Prop. 8.
We've heard before that some race minority Democrats weren't supportive of gay rights issues and this may have been the proof of it. If that's what happened, then Democrats will need to move pretty quickly to close ranks or there could be some problems.
It would be a problem for the party if some people thought they were faithful to the party by voting for Obama, but the party wasn't faithful to them by allowing Prop. 8 to pass in California. Adding similar measures with similar results in Florida and Arizona and the scope of the problem becomes apparent.
It's not just the seven to nine percent of the population who votes for gay rights issues because they themselves are gay that's at stake here. It's the twenty to twenty-five percent of the population who classify themselves as white, educated liberals that also support gay rights issues. Combined, you're looking at fifty to sixty percent of the Democratic party that's understandably upset that members of their own party voted against one of their key issues.
The black church leaders are major players here. If they don't push their faithful to start voting for gay rights issues then this divide in the party could widen.
Right now, there's no where for these people to go. It's not like they can up and join the Republican Party. But what they can do is stop voting for each other's issues, effectively handing whole elections to the Republicans.
If I were Barak Obama, I'd hit this issue pretty hard, pretty early: before the inauguration. If I were Howard Dean, I'd be working pretty hard behind-the-scenes to let these church leaders know what's at stake if they don't close ranks on this issue.
Ronald Reagan used to say the new Golden Rule was "thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican." For the Democrats there might need to be a new Golden Rule as well, "thou shalt not vote against another Democrat's important issues."